Born in Queens, New York, in 1966, David Schwimmer grew up in Los Angeles and studied theater at Northwestern University. He appeared on TV shows such as The Wonder Years and NYPD Blue before landing the breakout role of Ross Geller on Friends in 1994. Following the hit sitcom's 10-year run, Schwimmer starred in theater productions and directed the feature films Run Fatboy Run (2007) and Trust (2010). In 2014, it was announced he would portray lawyer Robert Kardashian for the first season of American Crime Story, about the murder trial of O.J. Simpson.
Early Years and Career
David Lawrence Schwimmer was born in Queens, New York, on November 2, 1966. His family moved to Los Angeles when he was 2, and Schwimmer started down the acting path at Beverly Hills High School, where he appeared in school plays. He enrolled at Northwestern University in Illinois, earning a bachelor’s degree in theater and speech in 1988.
After graduation, Schwimmer formed the Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago and tried to scratch by as an actor. He kept the dream alive with recurring roles on the TV shows L.A. Law, The Wonder Years and NYPD Blue, and in small films such as Crossing the Bridge (1992), Twenty Bucks (1992) and The Waiter (1993). During this period, he was cast opposite Henry Winkler in a new sitcom called Monty. While it seemed to be the actor’s big break, the show was canceled after only a few episodes, and Schwimmer vowed that it would be his last comedy series.
'Friends' and Stardom
After deciding to try comedy again, Schwimmer scored his breakthrough in 1994 with the role of Ross Geller on the new NBC series Friends. Schwimmer was the first actor cast on the ensemble show, and he instantly inhabited the nerdy, neurotic character. He was nominated for an Emmy Award during the show’s first season, and more accolades for both Schwimmer and the cast followed. A massive hit, Friends anchored NBC’s comedic Thursday night lineup and turned the entire cast into stars overnight.
For Schwimmer, the newfound fame led to increased opportunities on the big screen. The Pallbearer (1996) was Schwimmer’s first starring film role, and on its heels came Breast Men (TV-1997), Kissing a Fool (1998) and Six Days Seven Nights (1998). While these movies failed to achieve box-office gold, Schwimmer rode the Friends train for several more years, until the show’s conclusion in 2004.
Following Friends’ epic run, Schwimmer undertook a variety of projects. He voiced the character of Melman the giraffe in the animated hit Madagascar (2005) and its sequels, and made his Broadway debut in 2006 with The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial. Schwimmer also stepped behind the camera to direct a pair of feature films, the 2007 comedy Run Fatboy Run, starring Simon Pegg, and the 2010 drama Trust, with Clive Owen and Catherine Keener.
Following years of guest appearances on shows like 30 Rock, Entourage and Web Therapy (with old Friends castmate Lisa Kudrow), Schwimmer in 2014 signed up to play lawyer Robert Kardashian for the FX miniseries American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson. The following year, it was announced he would star in the new British comedy Morning Has Broken. Both series were set to air in 2016.
In June 2010, Schwimmer married British photographer Zoe Buckman. They became parents with the birth of daughter Cleo in May 2011.
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